AT&T's Latest Project AirGig Trial Delivers High-Speed Internet Over Power Lines

Project AirGig

AT&T is testing out a new way of delivering ultra-fast Internet connectivity to customers that is on par with fiber-optic networks, only AT&T's solution is over the air. Called "Project AirGig," this first-of-its-kind system consists of a contraption that clamps onto existing power poles, negating the need to build new towers or run lines under the ground. According to AT&T, it only takes a few minutes to train an electrical worker how to install these devices.

Project AirGig is the result of over a decade of research by AT&T Labs. More than 300 patents and patent applications are involved. AT&T says it represents a potential new era in connectivity where turbocharged data speeds can be available almost everywhere in the world. In contrast, ultra-fast broadband service via fiber-optic is only available in a relatively small number of areas, typically in major cities.

AT&T's solution uses a millimeter wave (mmWave) signal guided by power lines. It has the potential to one day deliver speeds well in excess of 1 gigabit per second (1 Gbps), AT&T says.

"Project AirGig is part of our ongoing effort to accelerate Internet connections to a gig or more through both wired and wireless solutions," said Andre Fuetsch, president, AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer. "But it also stands alone as a radically innovative solution to bridge the global digital divide. If these trials and our continued research and development turn out the way we intend, we’ll take a big step toward bringing hyper-fast connectivity to people everywhere."

AT&T began the first phase of its Project AirGig trial earlier this year, teaming up with an electricity provider outside the United States. The second trial has just begun, kicking off in Georgia with Georgia Power. It's currently being tested in a rural area, though AT&T says it can be deployed in many areas not serviced by high speed broadband today, whether rural, suburban, or urban.

These trials can last for several months. At present, there is no timetable on a commercial deployment, as AT&T is still developing the technology. However, AT&T says it's "encouraged and exicted" by what it's seen so far.

"Innovation is never a straight path. But, these trials point the way forward to a potential future where the benefits of ultra-fast internet are available to almost everyone," AT&T said.

Top and Thumbnail Image Source: YouTube via AT&T